Saudi Arabia, one of the biggest countries in Western Asia, is famous for its oil, arid desert, and Arabian coffee.
It has recently decided to concentrate its vast economy towards a digital transformation, and rightly so. It has a GDP of $680 billion, and 70% of the population is below the age of 30 years, which has further boosted the economy.
One avenue that it has shown heightened interest in and grown magnanimously is Artificial Intelligence.
An essential technology that integrates machine and human intelligence. It is being considered as the primary catalyst for moving forward with able entrepreneurship.
In September, a royal decree was issued, which mandated the Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence formation and the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence.
It catapulted their zeal towards the transformation of the country towards becoming the Silicon Valley of the Middle East.
It has ample support from the Crown Prince as well, which is fueling this rapid progress.
It is one of the main agendas under Vision 2030, which supports an accelerated promotion of start-ups and Artificial Intelligence.
The government is playing its part by providing infrastructure and monetary support. It has also made the country more accessible to foreign business associates by offering visas efficiently and funding the resources for developing the youths.
Robot Sophia gets Saudi citizenship.
To boost the Artificial Intelligence drive in Saudi Arabia, citizenship has been granted to the humanoid robot – Sophia. With this, history has been made.
This will also further help to create awareness about AI. [Source]
The fact that the capital funding from start-ups rose from $7 million in 2015 to a monumental $152 million in 2020proves that Saudi Arabia is definitely on the right track in the race to become the most prominent tech hub globally.
Even though the pandemic COVID-19 crippled the whole world, it did not stop any investments from flowing into Financial Technology, e-commerce, and start-ups related to Artificial Intelligence as such.
One thrust area that the country has mainly concentrated on is the implementation of 5G telecommunication technology.
Operations have already been deployed in 20 of the cities by Zain networks to test the market.
The development of this technology can improve healthcare and business potential and also help to establish smart cities. The investment of Saudi Arabia in 5G technology is currently the highest in the world.
Another potential sector with many opportunities is the gaming industry. It is evaluated to be around $5 billion—close to 14 percent of all the gamers in the world hail from Saudi Arabia.
However, the games that they specialize in have international developers. Therefore, there has been a recent promotion in developing local games with substantial funds pouring in that direction.
The impetus to tech SMEs
The small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) have also been given the necessary impetus with the vision of raising the GDP coming from it from 20% to 35% by 2030, which is another aspect laid down for the Vision 2030 project.
Their publicized investment in tech companies like Uber and the establishment of co-working hubs to support entrepreneurship are further testament to its intention to digitalize.
The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) made its brand identity known through an event in Riyadh.
The theme of it, “Data is Oil of the 21st Century,” further reiterates the country’s will to lead the race in this particular sector. It revealed the plan to invest $500 billion in a smart city called Neom, which will be the embodiment of smart cities. Integrating Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, and Blockchain Technology comprehensively.
There is no denying that Saudi Arabia has the potential to emerge as the next biggest tech hub in the world.
Its enormous economic support and the booming infrastructure, and adequate youth support can help develop something unparalleled and unique.v